Monday 24 September 2012
[SKS comment:This video is difficult to watch and deeply disturbing. We know that there are atrocities being committed in many ways and by many people in Syria. This video shows real and incredibly brutal violence by people who appear to be agents of the State committed against cowering men - someone's father, brother, son, husband, grandchild is being beaten to a pulp by someone else's father, brother, son, husband, grandchild. We have to find ways to reach these men and others who have lost all sense of what they are doing, to bring back respect for life and humanity. Violence leads to violence - there are many trying to find solutions without violence. Their voices need to be heard]: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUKy-FgIMho
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights: Final death toll for Monday 24/9/2012: More than 140 Syrians have been killed today. -The dead include: 99 unarmed civilians (including 10 children), 17 rebel fighters, 8 unidentified, and 29 regime forces.
-85 Unarmed civilians:
-In Aleppo Province 24 civilians were killed. 18 were killed in the city of Aleppo: 13 civilians, including 4 children and a girl, were killed by bombardment on the Ma‘adi, Ba’eedein, Qadi A’skar, Karam al-Jabal, and Tareeq al-Bab neighbourhoods of Aleppo city. 1 died, effected by injuries he received due to regime forces gunfire, in the Suleiman al-Halabi neighbourhood. 1 civilian, from the Bab Antakia neighbourhood, was killed, when the bus he was riding was targeted by regime forces. 3 unidentified martyrs were shot by regime forces in the neighbourhoods of Suleiman al-Halabi, al-Iza’a, and Salah al-Deen. In Reef Aleppo 6 civilians were killed: 2, including a child, were killed by bombardment on the Abzamo and Atareb towns. 4, from the Mare’ town, 3 of them (including 2 children) were killed when the car they were riding was targeted by Kuliyat al-Mushat checkpoint, and the other was killed by bombardment on the town.
-In Dera’a Province 7 civilians were killed. A child was shot by regime forces in the Da’el town. 1 civilian, from the Naseeb town, was shot by a military checkpoint in the Najeeh town. 4 civilians, one of them is a lawyer, were shot by regime forces in the Ibti’ town of Reef Dera’a, 3 of them, their bodied were burned. 1 was shot by regime forces in the A’tman town of Reef Dera’a.
-In Homs Province 11 civilians were killed. 2, from the Deir Ba’alba neighbourhood of Homs city, were tortured to death after being detained by regime forces. 6 civilians were killed in the Qseir city, 4 of them, including a child, by bombardment, 1 was tortured to death after his detainment by regime forces, and 1 was found dead after being detained by regime forces, a month ago. 1 was shot by regime forces in the Talbeesa town. 2 women were killed by bombardment on the Teir Ma’ala of Reef Homs.
-In Reef Dimashq Province 25 civilians were killed. 3 were shot by regime forces in the Harasta city and the Qudsaya suburb. 10 civilians, including a young man and 7 men, were killed by bombardment on the area of Duma. 3 men were killed by bombardment on the Zamalka town. A civilian was found dead in the Ma’adamiya town of Reef Dimashq. 1 civilian died, effected by injuries he received during bombardment on the Kafarbatna town, several days ago. 1 was killed by bombardment on the Zayabiya town. 6 men were killed in various areas of the Sbeina town, which regime forces have raided, 2 of their names were identified until now.
-In Latakia Province 2 civilians were tortured to death after being detained by regime forces.
-In Hama Province 2 civilians were killed. 1 was shot by regime forces in the Sheikh A’nbar neighbourhood of Hama city. 1 civilian, from the Sharee’a village of Reef Hama, was tortured to death, after his detainment by regime forces.
-In Deir Izzor Province 4 civilians were killed. 2 were killed by bombardment on the Deir Izzor city. 2 civilians, from the Muhasan town of Reef Deir Izzor, were killed, one of them due to injuries he received by bombardment on the town, before yesterday, and a girl during bombardment on the Duma city of Reef Dimashq.
-17 Rebel fighters:
-In Aleppo Province 7 fighters were killed. A leader of a rebel battalion and 2 fighters were killed during clashes with regime forces in Western Reef Aleppo. 4 were killed during clashes in the Aleppo city.
-In Damascus Province 1 fighter, from the Qabun neighbourhood, was killed during clashes in al-Ghuta of Reef Dimashq.
-In Dera’a Province 3 fighters were killed. 1 rebel fighter was shot by regime forces in the Ibti’ town of Reef Dera’a. 2 rebel fighters, from Deir al-Bakht were killed during clashes with regime forces.
-In Reef Dimashq Province 2 rebel fighters were killed during clashes with regime forces in Reef Dimashq.
-In Homs Province 3 fighters were killed duirng clashes with regime forces in the Jobar neighbourhood.
-In Idlib Province a rebel fighter was killed during clashes with regime forces in Western Reef Aleppo.
-News were received about the death of 7 civilians by regime forces gunfire in the town of Sbeina of Reef Dimashq.
-News were received about the discovery of 8 unidentified corpses in the Akramiya neighbourhood, who were shot to death.
-Not less than 29 regime forces were killed due to bombing machineries, attacks on checkpoints and headquarters, and clashes in the Provinces of Aleppo, Idlib, Deir Izzor, Homs, Damascus, Reef Dimashq, and Dera’a.
24 September 2012 – The Joint Special Representative of the United Nations and the League of Arab States on the Syrian crisis, Lakhdar Brahimi, today announced that while the situation in Syria continues to be “very grim,” a solution may be forthcoming.
“There is no prospect for moving forward today or tomorrow,” Mr. Brahimi told journalists following a briefing of the Security Council on the issue. “But I also told the Council that, paradoxically, now that I have found out a little more about what is happening in the country and the region, I think that we will find an opening in the not-to-distant future.”
More than 18,000 people, mostly civilians, have died since the uprising against President al-Assad began in March 2011. In addition, more than 260,000 Syrians have fled to neighbouring countries and an estimated 2.5 million are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.
Mr. Brahimi recently returned from his trip to the Middle East where he met with President al-Assad to discuss the crisis. He then visited refugee camps in Turkey and Jordan, where he heard first-hand accounts of the struggles facing those who fled the conflict in their homeland.
On Saturday, upon his return from the region, the Joint Special Representative met with Secretary-GeneralBan Ki-moon to address the violence in Syria and on how to progress towards an inclusive political solution that will address the legitimate demands of the Syrian people
In his press encounter today, Mr. Brahimi acknowledged that while he did not have “a full plan” as of yet on how to tackle the escalating conflict, he planned on returning to Syria soon.
“I’m returning to the region and I have agreed with the Council that I will come back here as soon as I can with more ideas on how we can move forward,” Mr. Brahimi continued. “I refuse to believe that reasonable people do not see that you cannot go backward; that you cannot go back to the Syria of the past.”
Turning his attention to the Security Council’s ongoing deadlock – due to differences over how to proceed, the Council has so far been unable to unite and take collective action to put an end to the crisis – Mr. Brahimi said he was encouraged by the Council members’ interest in the situation and their “generous support” to his mission. He also called on both the Council and the League of Arab States to remain united in their position.
“I said that if I do not represent the entire Council, I’m nothing,” Mr. Brahimi stated. “I need to be seen to represent a united Council and united League of Arab States.”
Addressing the press stakeout, Ambassador Peter Wittig of Germany, which holds the Council’s rotating presidency for this month, said the Council welcomed the opportunity to discuss the situation in Syria with Mr. Brahimi and that the Council members expressed grave concern about the ongoing violence in the country and its humanitarian impact. Furthermore, he reaffirmed the Council’s “full and strong support” for the UN envoy’s mission.
For his part, Mr. Brahimi noted that there was “no disagreement anywhere” that the situation in Syria was getting worse and that the violence had turned into a threat to regional peace and security. Nevertheless, he urged patience. “Please don’t forget that I started just three weeks ago,” he noted.
[local time] 21:41 Jordanian anti-riot police were called in again on Monday to quell a protest by angry Syrians at a refugee camp after they torched a tent and destroyed property, a leading charity said.
19:19 Syria’s rebels have captured hundreds of kilometers of territory in the country’s north in the past six months, an AFP correspondent who visited the area in March reported on Monday.
18:14 UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi told the UN Security Council on Monday that the Syrian civil war is worsening and the country faces a growing food crisis, envoys said.
17:42 Syrian regime forces summarily executed six people in the town of Al-Sabina near Damascus, Al-Jazeera television quoted activists as saying.
17:39 Syria’s Ministry of Information on Monday denied the sacking of the country’s ambassador to Lebanon and said a previous email announcement was a result of hacking, state television reported. 16:31 Monday’s death toll in Syria has increased to 40, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying.
16:15 WARNING, GRAPHIC CONTENT: A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Monday shows Syrian security forces dressed in their military fatigue beating bloodied detainees and verbally abusing them. One security forces member was heard encouraging other members to violently abuse the detainees. [Comment: This is very disturbing state-sponsored violence, see above]
12:35 More than 2,000 Syrian soldiers have defected to Jordan since the conflict erupted last year in the neighboring country, the commander of Jordan’s border guards said in remarks published on Monday.
12:15 Twenty-four people have been killed so far across Syria, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
12:07 Members of the rebel Free Syrian Army clashed with regime forces near the village of Kherbet al-Joz near the border with Turkey, Al-Jazeera reported on Monday.
10:49 Syrian warplanes targeted several residential districts of the northern city of Aleppo on Monday, killing at least five people including three children from one family, a rights watchdog said.
9:00 MORNING LEADER: Regime aircraft hammered insurgent bastions nationwide on Sunday in central Homs province, Deir az-Zour in the east, and areas of Damascus as rebels said they now control most of the country and have moved their command center from Turkey to “liberated areas” inside Syria.
8:56 Syrian regime forces have killed 12 people so far, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying on Monday.
The situation in Syria is “extremely bad and getting worse”, UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi has said.
Video: Brahimi: ‘Getting worse’
He spoke after briefing the Security Council about his first trip to Syria since taking the post on 1 September.
Mr Brahimi said he would return soon, but admitted he did not have a full plan on how to bring peace to Syria.
The statement comes as violence continues across the country. Activists said the government was bombing parts of the second city, Aleppo.
The activists said three children from one family were among eight people killed in air strikes in the central district of Maadi. There were clashes between troops and rebels overnight in several districts.
Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad blamed the violence on foreign-backed “terrorist groups”.
He told the BBC that Syria was carrying “a message of peace and national reconciliation” to the UN’s General Assembly, which starts its annual debate on Tuesday.
The UN says more than 20,000 people have been killed since anti-government protests began in Syria in March 2011. Activists put the death toll as high as 30,000.
Call for truce
On Monday, the Local Co-ordination Committees, an opposition activist network, reported that at least 40 people had died in fighting, including 13 in Aleppo.
Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad: Damascus is carrying “a message of peace”
Two buildings were hit by bombs dropped by government warplanes in Maadi, it said.
At least eight bodies had so far been found, but more were believed to be buried underneath the wrecked buildings, it added. A video posted online showed people digging through rubble.
Battles also raged overnight in the western districts of Jamilia, Bustan al-Qasr, Furqan and Zabdiya, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based activist group. The army also shelled rebel positions in Marjah and Tariq al-Bab, it added.
The state news agency Sana said the army had “cleansed” parts of the Arqoub, Jadida, Suleiman al-Halabi and Karm al-Jabal areas of Aleppo on Monday. Troops seized ammunition, dismantled explosive devices and “killed a large number of terrorists”, it added.
A five-year-old girl and a man were killed during the bombardment of the southern town of Dael, in Deraa province, the Observatory reported. Six soldiers also died when a bomb exploded beside a lorry transporting them in Deraa.
Clashes between government forces and rebels were also reported in the north-eastern and north-western districts of the capital, Damascus.
More than 260,000 Syrians have fled to neighbouring countries, the UN says. There are also thought to be more than 1.2 million internally displaced people, and 2.5 million in need of humanitarian assistance.
The Security Council has so far been unable to reach agreement on how to respond to the crisis, with Russia and China blocking three Western-backed resolutions seeking to pressure President Assad to end the violence and begin talks with the opposition.
On Sunday, representatives of 20 opposition parties tolerated by the authorities attended a conference in Damascus where they called on both sides to end the violence immediately.
Raja al-Nasser, one of the organisers of the Syria Salvation Conference, called for an “immediate halt to the shooting, a halt to the brutal and barbaric shelling, a truce and a pause for the fighters”.
A truce could “open the way for a political process… which guarantees a radical political change, an end to the current regime and a serious and genuine democracy,” he said.
The appeal was dismissed by the rebel Free Syrian Army, which said the meeting was a “silly plot to mislead the international community to think there is a negotiation in place”.
RANIA, Iraq, Sept. 21 (UPI) – Beneath a canopy of pines in central Rania, the music has been playing for weeks. For locals in this city of 100,000 in northern Iraq, the sound of “Oh, Enemy,” the saz-infused Kurdish national anthem, conjures memories from the early 1990s, when the Kurds in this city rose up against then-dictator Saddam Hussein. The song is a somber rallying cry that charts the sacrifices and tenacity of Kurds throughout the centuries.
Today, this tree-shaded area is the site of a charity camp conceived as a way to raise money for beleaguered Kurds in warring Syria.
Khalid Qadir, a mainstay at Rania’s youth activity center in the city and an organizer of the charity camp, says the similarities between events in Kobani, a Kurdish stronghold in Syria, and Rania are hard to ignore.
“Rania was the first city to start rising up against Saddam’s government,” he said. “Kobani was one of the first in Syrian Kurdistan. We, at least, have this in common.”
Kurds seized power in Kobani and declared independence from Damascus, Syria’s capital, in July. The Kurdish influence in the Kobani region is so strong that it is often referred to as Syrian Kurdistan or Western Kurdistan.
The Rania charity camp has been open around the clock since early August. Beneath a Kurdish flag, activists sit in a ring of red plastic chairs. At the opening of a tent hangs a hand-scrawled sign. “Visit here,” it says, “to donate to Kurds in Syria.
Organizers say they have raised more than $68,000 — money they hope to deliver to Kurds in Kobani, a town whose uprising against the regime of Syria’s Bashar Assad have captured the imagination of people here.
The camp has attracted a cross-section of Rania society. Shene Aziz, who was chosen as the first Miss Kurdistan in June, recently paid a visit. So, too, have the city’s poor.
Ameed Rassul, a 42-year-old volunteer at the camp, said he’s overwhelmed when he sees peddlers and other people with little money excitedly donate what they have.
“I have seen some who put money into the box with tears; they were very passionate and emotional,” he said.
The developments in Rania come at a time when violence in Syria has reached fever pitch. There are more than 220,000 Syrian refugees in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, the United Nations reports. Each of those countries has said that they’ll soon stop accepting more Syrians. In a move that rankled many Iraqi Kurds, the Iraqi government recently closed the al-Qaim border crossing to Syria’s al-Bukamal province.
Conditions in refugee camps can be grim, with limited basic services and no access to schools. Even in cities like Kobani, basic necessities can be hard to come by.
“We want to buy them some clothes and food, especially flour,” said Qadir. “Many of them are living in hunger.”
Kurds are the largest ethnic minority in Syria. Turkish leaders have expressed concerns that newly liberated Kurdish cities, including Kobani, could provide safe haven for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, the militant Kurdish resistance group that has been fighting for an independent Kurdistan in Turkey for decades. The party is known by its Turkish initials PKK.
In August, the Turkish Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, held an unprecedented meeting with Massoud Barzani, the president of Iraqi Kurdistan, in which he cautioned the leadership of Iraqi Kurdistan against recognizing Kurdish political parties in Syria that have ties to the PKK.
Ali al-Mosawi, an adviser to the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, condemned Davutoglu’s visit.
Fueled by outrage over Turkey’s actions, a sense of religious duty and camaraderie with their fellow Kurds, activists in Rania continue to gather beneath the pines. The Kurdish flag wafts in the breeze. The music plays.
“Kurds in Syria have been struggling for their natural rights,” said 28-year-old activist Sarkawt Karem. “My conscience tells me they deserve to be aided.”
The international mediator on Syria said on Monday he has “a few ideas” but not a full plan on how to end the country’s 18-month conflict, which he described as “extremely bad and getting worse.”
Lakhdar Brahimi offered that assessment after his first briefing to the U.N. Security Council since replacing Kofi Annan as the U.N.-Arab League mediator on September 1. In his first month on the job, Brahimi met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus and visited refugee camps in Turkey and Jordan.
“I do not have a full plan for the moment, but I have a few ideas,” the veteran Algerian diplomat said. “I have agreed with the council I will come back here as soon as possible with more ideas on how we move forward.”
“The situation in Syria is extremely bad and getting worse. It is a threat to the region and a threat to peace and security in the world,” he told reporters. “There is a stalemate … but I think we will find an opening in the not too distant future.”
Brahimi declined to elaborate.
The United Nations says nearly 20,000 people have been killed in the conflict. More than 250,000 Syrians have fled to neighboring Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq, with more than 100,000 of those leaving in August alone.
Council diplomats, speaking on the condition of anonymity, described Brahimi’s assessment of the conflict as downbeat, saying that despite government claims it was committed to reform, Damascus was instead seeking to portray the uprising as a foreign conspiracy and return to how things used to be.
“You cannot go back to the Syria of the past,” Brahimi said. “Reform is not enough anymore, what is needed is change.”
One diplomat said that while Brahimi did not reveal much to the council about his plans, he was “solid” in laying the bulk of the blame for the conflict with Assad’s government.
While decrying the violence, diplomats offered no new ideas for how to solve it.
“The situation in Syria is grave. We need to do everything we can to end the violence and the killing of so many innocent people,” German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle told reporters.Germany is president of the council for September.
As Syria spirals deeper into civil war, the Security Council has been paralyzed as Russia andChina have blocked three Western-backed resolutions that criticized Assad and threatened sanctions.
Annan blamed the Security Council impasse for hampering his six-month bid to broker peace and leading to his decision to step down. Diplomats have tried to play down expectations for Brahimi’s mission and the former Algerian foreign minister has described the task of brokering peace as “nearly impossible.”
In a statement on Monday, the 15-member Security Council expressed grave concern about the situation in Syria and offered its full and strong support to Brahimi.
Diplomats said Brahimi made a plea to the Security Council for strong unified support, saying there could be no progress without it: “You all say you support me individually, why don’t you support me collectively? It shouldn’t be very difficult.”
Westerwelle said former U.N. Secretary-General Annan’s six-point plan for peace in Syria was still relevant.
The plan, which failed to take hold, calls for an end to violence, a Syrian-led political process, access for aid, the release of arbitrarily detained people, freedom of movement for journalists and the freedom to protest peacefully.
Brahimi said it was one of the “elements in my toolbox.” (Editing by Doina Chiacu)